Virginia (2-3) at Maryland (4-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Byrd Stadium (51,802) -- College Park, Maryland. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: UVA 2-2, UMD 2-0. Away Record: UVA 0-1, UMD 1-1. Neutral Record: UVA 0-0, UMD 1-0. Conference Record: UVA 0-1, UMD 0-1. Series Record: Maryland leads, 43-32-2.
GAME NOTES: The Maryland Terrapins could be without their field general when they step onto Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium for their Atlantic Coast Conference matchup with the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday.
Maryland's perfect 4-0 start to the season was ruined last week when it was pummeled in a 63-0 loss to the Florida State Seminoles in its ACC opener. The Terrapins had been impressive prior to the defeat as they coasted to double- digit victories over FIU, Old Dominion, Connecticut and West Virginia during their non-conference slate. Coach Randy Edsall not only experienced the inaugural setback of his third season at the helm of the program, but also lost his starting quarterback C.J. Brown to a concussion in the second quarter. Brown's status for this week is uncertain, which means sophomore Caleb Rowe could make his second career start versus the Cavaliers.
In 2012, Virginia won its first two games of the season only to lose its next six. Mike London's Cavaliers began to unravel after a promising start once again this year. They lost their second game in a row to fall to 2-3 last week as Ball State cruised to a 48-27 decision in Charlottesville. Virginia is 0-1 in the ACC standings and on the road thanks to its 14-3 failure against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field.
The Cavaliers and Terrapins have squared off every year since 1957. Unless they are matched up against one another in the postseason in 2014, the streak will be concluded on Saturday due to Maryland's plan to migrate to the Big Ten. The Terrapins own a 43-32-2 all-time series lead thanks to their 27-20 victory at Scott Stadium. Virginia has come out of the last three matchups at Byrd Stadium victorious.
Virginia moved the ball with decent success against Ball State last week en route to 459 yards of total offense to mark its highest output against an FBS opponent this year. The Cavaliers were tied with the Cardinals at 24 midway through the third quarter before Ball State pulled away in the final frame. Virginia hurt itself with four turnovers, including a lost fumble by star tailback Kevin Parks. Other than that miscue, the 5-foot-8 junior delivered a strong effort that yielded 104 yards and two rushing scores on 16 attempts. Khalek Shepherd also made a dent by rushing eight times for a career-best 71 yards.
The Cavaliers' opponents tend to stack extra defenders in the box to frustrate Parks and force quarterback David Watford to make plays. The redshirt sophomore set a career-high with 209 passing yards on 21-of-36 efficiency against Ball State. Watford scored on a 27-yard run, but could not produce any touchdowns through the air and was picked off once. He now has just three touchdown passes to seven interceptions on the year.
Virginia's first four opponents combined to score only 89 points with the high- powered Oregon Ducks accounting for all but 30 of them. Although the presence of talented players is apparent, the Cavaliers have to be characterized as unstable defensively after Ball State to compile 506 total yards and 29 first downs. London's team made matters worse by committing 13 penalties at the expense of an additional 93 yards. Sophomore linebacker Henry Coley tied Brent Urban for the team-high with 10 tackles and recorded a career-best 2.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
The loss of Brown could be devastating for Maryland's offense. The senior scrambler is the leading rusher among quarterbacks in the ACC with 286 yards and produced an astounding average of 331.5 yards of total offense per game during the team's four non-conference games.
The Terrapins' offense operates much differently under the pocket passing Rowe, who stepped in to complete 9-of-17 pass attempts for 119 yards against FSU after Brown was sidelined. The Terrapins failed to establish the running game for the first time in 2013 and produced only 33 yards on 25 carries. Starting tailback Brandon Ross rushed the ball only three times to lose a yard. Deon Long led the team with 77 yards on three receptions.
Maryland posted 32 points or more in all four of its games prior to being held scoreless by the Seminoles. It was also a dominant squad on the defensive side of the ball with only 41 points allowed through four games, including a shutout of WVU. The Terrapins were exposed by FSU, which compiled 614 yards and 33 first downs. Defensive back Sean Davis led the team with a career-high 12 tackles. Anthony Nixon also totaled a career high with 10 tackles. Although senior linebacker Marcus Whitfield had a quiet game with only two solo stops last week, Virginia's offensive line needs to keep him on the radar as he looks to add onto his team-leading totals of 6.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Maryland's defensive unit should be able to bounce back against Virginia's sluggish attack. The Cavaliers are scoring slightly more than 20 points per game totaling just 349.6 yards on average each week. Their poor overall showing has them positioned 12th in total offense and 13th in scoring offense in the 14-team ACC.
The Cavaliers will have an unpleasant trip to College Park if their defense is powerless against their competition's attack once again. Their turnover prone offense has not been in sync this season against quality competition and the odds they can resolve their issues on the road are slim at best. Virginia needs to protect the ball when it has possession and take advantage of any mistakes made by Maryland's quarterback, whether it be the inexperienced Rowe or the injured Brown.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Maryland 20, Virginia 14
10/09 10:36:29 ET